trom Gene Myers at the Detroit Free Press,
In the spring of 1997 — a quarter-century ago — the Detroit Red Wings embarked on their quest to end a 42-year Stanley Cup drought.
The Free Press has commemorated that historic quest with a new book: “Stanleytown: The Inside Story of How the Stanley Cup Returned to the Motor City After 41 Frustrating Seasons.”
Day 2: April 17, 1997
The backstory: After opening the 1997 playoffs with disillusioning 2-0 loss to the sixth-seeded St. Louis Blues, the Red Wings spent their off-day practice searching for their mojo and coach Scotty Bowman tinkering his lineup. Every fan in Michigan knew if the Wings — immediately — didn’t find their game, solve the Blues’ trapping defense and dent the armor of future Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr, then Detroit would be staring down its fourth first-round playoff exit in seven seasons.
Plan B: When Sergei Fedorov arrived at his locker, he found a red jersey, not a white one. That meant he was a forward again and not a defenseman. His spirits soared. “I went to get my jersey and go on the ice and kind of rechanged my thoughts and was thinking, ‘Here we go,’” Fedorov said. Bowman, in typical fashion, said Fedorov would play both positions — and then kept him at forward during the entire practice, sometimes with Steve Yzerman and Darren McCarty, sometimes with Brendan Shanahan and Martin Lapointe. Despite a 30-goal season, Fedorov had none in six games against the Blues and only two goals in his previous 20 playoff games.